Tuesday, October 9, 2012

milk memories

Making the decision to have a child is one of the biggest ones you'll ever make. It's stressful. It's exciting. It's exhausting (The italics does not stress enough just how tired you will be). It's months of waiting to get pregnant. It's months of agonizing over everything that could possibly go wrong with the pregnancy. It's praying over their safety and asking for mercy when you screw up as a parent. It's making decisions and saying "I'll nevers" and then eating a lot of words. :)

There are things I thought I would sail through. Take delivery... mine ended in c-section. Ok, then. Hmmm, that's not how that was supposed to go!

Take nursing. It's natural. Everyone can do it! You'll take right to it! 

Fast forward to a fragile postpartum momma rocking her baby while her momma holds her hand and tells her she's gonna make it! "You can do this!" "Your milk will come in!" "I know it hurts but just count to 10!"

Nursing sucked at the beginning. Ha. I guess that pun was intended. It was so. very. hard. And the hospital didn't help any sending me home with that little can of crack formula. When my baby is crying because he's hungry and I just nursed him 45 minutes ago, that little devil can whispered my name from the pantry. Thankfully my husband told me I was a "trooper" and that I could "do this" and we would cry through another night of non-stop nursing. 

And then. I had made it two weeks. TWO WEEKS!!! 

And then one morning I woke up and it had been a month. ONE WHOLE MONTH!!!

And by the time Dane was four months old we were on total cruise control. It was the easiest thing ever! I could nurse in a restaurant. In the pew at church. I even managed to nurse him while he remained buckled in his carseat driving down the road. Desperate times call for desperate measures! 

And then my baby turned one. One year old? I nursed a baby for a whole year. I NURSED A BABY FOR A WHOLE YEAR!!! The girl who wanted to quit when her 4 day old baby was screaming in hunger because her milk had yet to come in had nursed her baby for 365 consecutive days. I can't explain to you how victorious I felt! 

I love nursing. Love it. There is something so very special about snuggling your newborn baby and realizing that you are sustaining him. The milk you make is giving him life. To look at those droopy cheeks and rolly thighs and understand that your milk put that weight on those sweet little bones. And the specialness that is a nursing baby wanting his momma so he can nurse. I ate it up. This is not meant at all to discount the special relationship a momma who formula feeds has with her baby. Even if you only nursed a day, you know the "wow factor" of seeing that baby latch on and relax as he melted against you, feeling perfectly content and safe. 

Dane will fall asleep for anyone but me. ANYONE. Daddy puts him to bed every night. It's become their special time together. Tevie loves getting to snuggle up with him and I love getting to relax and unwind--or finish the dinner dishes (usually)-- while they settle in for the night. If he's with momma though, he wants his milk. So much so that if he had fallen asleep in the carseat or something, Tevie would have to move him to his bed because I got close enough for him to even smell milk, he would wake up and beg to nurse. Sometimes he would be so tired he would barely latch on before falling asleep. I treasured that when he was tiny but as he grew and grew, I began to worry that I wasn't doing him any favors. I tried timing our sessions and stopping at 10 minutes and rocking him. He didn't stand for that and would be fighting mad when I put him in crib to sleep. After going to facebook to ask friends what I should do and getting a resounding "ENJOY IT!", I decided that's what we'd do. His pediatrician said that she would pleased if he nursed until his 2nd birthday and as long as he was weaned before kindergarten she had no concerns. Love that lady! :) So, enjoy it I did. 

We've had a busy couple of weeks around here. We spent one Saturday playing on Tevie's parents' farm. Dane didn't get a morning nap and while we road around the farm he fell sound asleep in his Gran's arms. That night Tevie put him to bed. 

One whole day without nursing. 

The next day, Sunday, we went to late service at church. Dane must have played hard in children's church because he fell asleep in the car on the way home. Again, Daddy put him to sleep that night. 

Two whole days without nursing.

Monday he drank some whole milk from his cup and I rocked him to sleep at naptime. He fell the next day ( a pretty bad one that left a nasty bruise on his cheek) and in an effort to soothe him I tried to get him to nurse. He latched on for about ten seconds-- long enough stop crying-- and that was all he wanted. 

Just like that, we were done nursing. Have you ever had that moment when you realized you really should have been careful what you wished for? I did want my boy to just let me rock him to sleep. I did not want us to stop nursing. And it happened, really without us even trying. Life got busy, and my baby began growing up on me.

I knew there was a possibility it could happen like that. But my baby LOVED nursing so much, I was relieved when our doctor referenced kindergarten-- I thought it might take that long! To be honest, I wanted it to last longer than 14 months. Eighteen months was my goal (after we reached the year mark). I can't help but feeling like a little bit of a failure because we didn't quite make the mark. I know, I know, that 14 months is really good- great even. I will now admit that I was one of the few who was not weirded out by the lady nursing her toddler on the cover of Time Magazine a couple months ago. When you're nursing a baby, and plan on extended nursing, I could easily see how one day you look at the calendar and three years have past. At least in our situation, at the end Dane was only nursing 2-3 times a day. And it wasn't a weird thing. It's a very special connection, an amazing thing, really, that God gives us. He creates life in us and then allows us to carry it and, then, to sustain it for months (or years). Plus, there are numerous benefits to nursing for momma and toddler

So, to the momma who's struggling with a newborn marathon feeder, or the momma of a toddler who feels a little like a worn out old cow-- HANG IN THERE! I think Trace Adkins said it best when he sang, "You're gonna miss this. You're gonna want this back. You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast." You will really will miss it because when it's gone, it's gone. Maybe when you least expect it. Soak it up. Memorize the look of his sweet grin when he smiles at you mid-latch and milk dribbles down his cheek. Treasure the smell of his sweet post-bath skin, soaked in lotion and snuggled up against yours as he settles in to sleep. Nibble those chubby little fingers as they pinch and scratch your chest. :) (HA! Isn't that the worst?!). "It won't be like this for long." (Thank you, Darius Rucker, for making me weep like a baby every.single.time that song comes on-- even if it's the middle of the bread aisle at the grocery!)

Thanks for the milk memories, Baby Dane. Here's to a new stage and watching you grow into a big boy. 

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